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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-01-13

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Tuesday, 13 January 2009 Issue No: 3094

CONTENTS

  • [01] Athens discusses Gaza, Greek-Turkish ties
  • [02] PASOK cites 'alarming developments' in E. Aegean
  • [03] PM confers with employment minister
  • [04] Gov't on economy, PASOK reax
  • [05] Papandreou meets with Palestinian envoy
  • [06] PASOK requests more clarifications over Astakos port claim
  • [07] KKE leader briefs Papoulias on recent Ramallah visit, party's views
  • [08] Greece, FYROM envoys to meet Matthew Nimetz on February 11
  • [09] US cancels previously scheduled ammo shipment via port
  • [10] Foreign ministry unveils new portals
  • [11] Parliament on hydrographic services cooperation with Georgia
  • [12] David Landsman new British envoy to Athens
  • [13] Development minister on natural gas supplies
  • [14] Greek economic sentiment to record lows in Dec.
  • [15] Greek inflation slows to 2% Dec.
  • [16] Greek mutual funds' assets at 10.4 bln euros in Q4
  • [17] Eurobank unveils 950-mln-euro share capital hike plan
  • [18] ATEbank approves 675-mln-euro share capital increase plan
  • [19] Farmers hold rally in Thessaloniki
  • [20] Club Hotel Loutraki ups stake in Belgrade casino to 90%
  • [21] Building activity down 16% in Jan-Oct
  • [22] Greek stocks down 1.14% on Mon.
  • [23] ADEX closing report
  • [24] Greek state bonds suffer significant losses in Dec.
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates: Tuesday
  • [26] Shipping executive abducted in brash daylight kidnapping
  • [27] Syrian national acquitted of lowering Israeli flag
  • [28] Cloudy on Tuesday
  • [29] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Athens discusses Gaza, Greek-Turkish ties

    The developments in Gaza, the latest clouds in Greek-Turkish relations following a series of Turkish military provocations in the eastern Aegean as well as the Greek peacekeeping force in Afghanistan dominated in a Government Council on Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) meeting on Monday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    On Greek-Turkish relations, the foreign minister pointed out that they were discussed based on the latest developments, and underlined that Greece seeks to improve bilateral relations, which in 2008 appeared stagnant, adding that Athens' objective in 2009 remains the same, namely, to improve relations with Ankara.

    Regarding the actual Turkish provocations and the likelihood of a "heated incident", Bakoyannis stressed that seriousness and poise are necessary, reiterating that Turkey's stance is being analysed by the foreign ministry, the defence ministry and the national defence general staff.

    Bakoyannis noted that, unfortunately, breaches and violations have been recorded over the past few years, which are being assessed by Greece, while at the same time Turkey's volition to become an EU member is also being evaluated. He pointed out that two Greek governments have backed Ankara's EU accession course, stressing, at the same time, that good neighbourly relations are among the necessary preconditions set.

    Touching on the Greek force in Afghanistan, the foreign minister stated that Athens will continue to be present in the UN fight against terrorism, in accordance with the terms defined by the ministry of defence and the military.

    In an unrelated development, Bakoyannis again dismissed press claims according to which Israeli is being supplied through the small western port of Astakos, pointing out that the issue is non existent. The foreign minister echoed a statement by foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, who commented on Saturday that "the relevant reports are groundless. There is no question of the Israeli army being supplied via the port of Astakos or any other location in Greece."

    On his part, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, referring to the Turkish provocations, underlined that Greece is in a state of readiness and is watching developments closely. As regards the Turkish exercise currently in progress in the Aegean, he stated that it is a scheduled exercise held 3-4 times a year and "causes no concern". He pointed out however, that exercises held by the neighbouring country are being monitored closely.

    Responding to a question concerning an overflight by Turkish warplanes of the island of Agathonissi, Meimarakis recommended calmness and cautiousness, pointing out that "the Turks will come to realise that they cannot continue to carry out such practices."

    He stressed that all necessary demarches are being made, adding that "we are trying to explain to the Turks that the escalation of tension is not helpful and that they are responsible for the lack of progress."

    [02] PASOK cites 'alarming developments' in E. Aegean

    Main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou stressed that his party is closely monitoring what he called the "alarming developments" in the eastern Aegean.

    He pointed out that they are directly linked to Turkey's domestic issues, and accused the ruling New Democracy (ND) government of engaging in unproductive policies.

    [03] PM confers with employment minister

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received Employment Minister Fani Palli Petralia on Monday for a briefing on initiatives aimed at protecting existing jobs while at the same time creating new ones.

    The objective is to protect labour rights while employment issues are being monitored taking under consideration the employment observatory reports, the minister said.

    Petralia pointed out that the employment ministry budget is larger this year and all national and European funds will be funnelled to the most vulnerable social groups.

    [04] Gov't on economy, PASOK reax

    The government's goal is to complete the work it has undertaken, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Monday, adding that changes are welcomed but the relevant decisions are being made by the government.

    As regards the Greek state's effort on Tuesday to come up with 2.5 billion euros through the sale of state bonds, he said Greece is a totally reliable partner and everybody is aware of it.

    On the reason why interest rate reductions have not reached borrowers, he reiterated that limited liquidity affects all countries in Europe, both inside and outside the Euro-zone, stressing that the government has undertaken specific initiatives toward this end.

    PASOK

    Meanwhile, a main opposition PASOK spokesman on Monday charged that the recent government reshuffle "does not change policies, and the people have concluded that the present government is unable to solve the problems of society."

    [05] Papandreou meets with Palestinian envoy

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Monday underlined that solidarity to the Palestinian people is standing and unquestionable, in comments he made after meeting with the head of the Palestinian diplomatic delegation to Athens, Samir Abou Ghazaleh.

    The leader of PASOK stated in the meeting, held at the party's central offices in Athens, that he will "always support the struggle for an independent Palestinian state that can live peacefully and free next to Israel."

    Papandreou, who is also the president of Socialist International (SI), expressed support to Palestinian national council President Mahmoud Abbas and his efforts, which are already enjoying the organisation's support, while he reiterated that initiatives will be undertaken for an immediate ceasefire and truce in the region.

    "Everyone is shocked by the images of civilians being massacred," Papandreou said, adding that "a new crime is in process (of taking place) because of the absence of humanitarian organisations and aid in the region, which are prevented from reaching the civilian population." The leader of PASOK reiterated his appeal to Israel to allow humanitarian aid reach Gaza residents.

    On his part, Ghazaleh expressed hope that his people's efforts will be vindicated with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state before the end of the year.

    [06] PASOK requests more clarifications over Astakos port claim

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou characteriˇed as "not satisfactory" the explanations provided by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis vis-a-vis press claims citing the offloading of military supplies for Israel at the small port of Astakos, in western Greece.

    The government has to come up with clear answers in a very sensitive period considering what is taking place in Gaza," he said.

    In addition, he stated that PASOK supports the initiative of those on board the vessel "Arion" carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, and stressed that such undertakings will have to be backed and be met with no obstacles.

    [07] KKE leader briefs Papoulias on recent Ramallah visit, party's views

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday received Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga at the presidential mansion, with the latter briefing the president on her recent visit to Ramallah at the head of a KKE delegation.

    The recently resurged issue of Greek-Turkish relations was also discussed in light of a series of brash Turkish military provocations in the eastern Aegean.

    In response to a press question, Papariga referred to a "hardening" of official policy by Ankara, while noting that "calm-headedness is one thing, tolerance (of such actions) is quite another" -- in reference to the Greek government.

    The KKE leader also called on the government to immediately bring the issue before the EU and NATO, while emphasising that Athens' threat to employ a veto against Turkey EU prospects is meaningless, "because Ankara is not really interested in joining the European Union."

    [08] Greece, FYROM envoys to meet Matthew Nimetz on February 11

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    The representatives of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will be meeting UN envoy Matthew Nimetz in New York on February 11, according to an announcement issued by the UN on Monday.

    The announcement said that the UN secretary general's personal envoy in the talks between Greece and FYROM (regarding the latter's name issue) announced on Monday that "there shall be a resumption of the talks" between the representatives of Greece and FYROM in New York, on February 11, 2009.

    It was added that Greece will be represented by ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis and FYROM by ambassador Zoran Jolevski. The time and place of the meeting will be determined at a later stage.

    [09] US cancels previously scheduled ammo shipment via port

    The trans-shipment of ammunition via the Greek port of Astakos (in western Greece) to a US military stockpile in Ashdod, Israel will not ultimately take place, according to Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Ryder and relayed in a US embassy statement issued early on Monday evening.

    "The trans-shipment of ammunition via the Greek port of Astakos to a US military stockpile in Ashdod, Israel referred to in a December 31 request for proposal will not take place..." a statement read, adding:

    "The delivery of ammunition is to a pre-positioned US munitions stockpile in Israel in accordance with a congressionally-authorized 1990 agreement between the US and Israel. This previously scheduled shipment is routine and not in support of the current situation in Gaza. It was coordinated during summer 2008 and approved by the DoD (department of defense) in October 2008. The shipment originated in the United States," the statement concluded.

    [10] Foreign ministry unveils new portals

    The Greek foreign minister on Monday unveiled two internet services (portals) for the business community and civil society, which was addressed by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    The two services are the Agora portal (<http://www.agora.mfa.gr/>), and the portal for international funding (<http://www.aidfunding.mfa.gr/>) which is aimed at helping Greek businesses and NGOs make the most of development programmes implemented by multilateral financial institutions in developing countries.

    At a time of a global financial crisis, in which the domestic demand is pressured and the country's traditional markets in Europe are in economic recession, enhancing the extroversion of the Greek private sector in order to preserve jobs and not lose robust business units was of great importance, Bakoyannis said in her greeting at the event.

    She said that the upgraded Agora site contained information on tenders, acquisitions, business missions, sector exhibitions, more than 500 market surveys, business news, the institutional framework for investments in various countries, and Greece's bilateral relations.

    According to ecretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Theodore Skylakakis, with the introduction of the Agora portal, the ministry was in effect transferring the matter of information from the ministry services around the world to online access, with every new item of information being uploaded directly onto the Agora site. This, he added, translates into 1200-1400 new information items every month from the ministry's 60 financial and commercial offices in 50 countries around the world.

    [11] Parliament on hydrographic services cooperation with Georgia

    The Parliament Plenum approved with a majority vote on Monday the ratification of a memorandum of understanding between Greece and Georgia on the cooperation of their hydrographic services.

    The memorandum was supported by the deputies of the ruling New Democracy party and of the main opposition PASOK party, while voting against it were the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party.

    Deputy Defence Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis categorically denied claims made by the opposition that the door will be opening for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of the NATO alliance being stockpiled in the country, stressing that "it is purely a technical agreement, without cost, that is being signed following a request made by Georgia."

    [12] David Landsman new British envoy to Athens

    LONDON (ANA-MPA / L. Tsirigotakis)

    Britain's new ßmbassador to Athens David Landsman will be in Athens by the end of the week to assume his post, according to an announcement by the Foreign Office on Monday.

    It will be Landsman's second tenure in Greece, since he served at the British embassy in Athens between 1991 and 1994, in the position of secretary responsible for bilateral economic relations.

    The new British envoy is quite familiar with the Balkans, having served in the UK's diplomatic missions in Tirana and Belgrade, as well as for various Foreign Office departments on issues concerning the Balkans and southeastern Europe.

    Financial News

    [13] Development minister on natural gas supplies

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The European Union's special energy ministers session was held here on Monday, focusing on the EU's energy security and adequacy.

    Speaking after the session, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said that following the efforts made by the Czech EU Presidency and the European Commission, it appears that as of Tuesday morning natural gas will begin to flow to the EU member-states, including Greece.

    The minister pointed out that this is the promise given by the Russian and Ukrainian sides, but expressed his slight reservation regarding the finalising of the agreement since, as he added, despite the progress achieved in the past days certain technical issues have not yet been resolved 100 percent.

    According to the minister, Greece had been present from the very beginning in the effort to overcome the crisis, with the participation of two Greek observers in the European group of obervers concerning the implementation of the agreement on the borders between Russia and Ukraine.

    Lastly, Hatzidakis had bilateral contacts on the sidelines of the session with his counterparts from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Italy.

    [14] Greek economic sentiment to record lows in Dec.

    Greece's economic sentiment index fell for the 10th consecutive month in December 2008, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday. In a monthly report on the economic conditions in the country, IOBE said the economic sentiment index fell to 54.3 points in December, down more than 25 points from August 2008 (80.8 points).

    The report said the December figure was the lowest ever recorded in Greece, while record low readings were also recorded in 17 EU member-states, including Spain, UK, Germany and Italy.

    In the industrial sector, business expectations worsened over new orders and demand, while for the first time in three years forecasts were recorded over lower production levels in the next three-months. Inventories were up in December.

    In the services sector, expectations over economic activity were negative -for the first time in five years- with forecasts saying that current demand was already down.

    In the retail sector, pessimism prevails with negative expectations over current sales and higher inventories.

    In the construction sector, expectations were even more pessimistic over employment.

    The consumer's confidence index fell slightly in December. IOBE said Greeks were more pessimistic over the financial condition of their households in the next 12 months, remaining the most pessimistic in Europe. Consumers' forecasts over economic developments in the country in the next 12 months worsened slightly (78 pct in December from 74 pct in November), while consumers were largely pessimistic over developments in employment.

    [15] Greek inflation slows to 2% Dec.

    Greek annual inflation rate slowed spectacularly to 2.0 pct in December 2008, compared with the same month in 2007, after a 3.9-pct reading in December 2007, the National Statistics Service announced on Monday.

    The service, in a monthly report, said the inflation rate, measured by the consumer price index, fell 0.5 pct in December from November, after recording a 0.4-pct increase in December 2007.

    Commenting on these positive development, Manolis Kontopyrakis, NSS secretary-general, said the reasons behind the spectacular decline was mainly a 10-pct drop in petrol prices, an 18.6-pct fall in heating oil prices and limited rises in fruits, vegetables and super market prices.

    The statistics service and the 2.0-pct inflation rate in December, reflected a 4.7-pct increase in education prices, a 3.9-pct rise in food/beverage prices, a 5.3-pct increase in the hotel-coffee-restaurant group, a 3.9-pct rise in healthcare prices and a 3.4 pct increase in the other goods and services group.

    Greece's harmonised inflation rate in December was 2.2 pct. Kontopyrakis said he expected the consumer price index to remain at December's levels in January.

    [16] Greek mutual funds' assets at 10.4 bln euros in Q4

    The Greek mutual funds market's value totaled 10.4 billion euros at the fourth quarter of 2008, following a decline in other international mutual funds markets amid a severe credit crisis, official figures showed on Monday.

    The equity mutual funds category recorded a 2.26-pct increase in capital outflows in the October-December 2008 quarter, with December recording a 0.08-pct increase, to a total value of 1.79 billion euros. The category's 65 mutual funds recorded an average return of 57.8 pct in 2008, smaller compared with a 65.5 pct decline in the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange. Combined domestic and foreign category funds recorded returns of -28.83 pct and -25.35 pct in 2008, significantly smaller compared with the composite index of ASE, while the value of assets in the money market and fixed-income funds categories totaled 5.9 billion euros.

    [17] Eurobank unveils 950-mln-euro share capital hike plan

    Eurobank on Monday announced a 950-mln-euro share capital increase plan.

    Nikolaos Nanopoulos, the bank's chief executive, addressing an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting, said the plan was part of a government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the economy.

    Nanopoulos said new liquidity in the bank would be channelled to private, small-and medium-sized enterprises and predicted a 10-pct growth in the bank's lending portfolio this year.

    He stressed that the board would recommend a dividend payment of 35 pct of the group's profits but noted that a new law on bank funding envisaged that dividend payment levels needed the approval of relevant economy minister.

    [18] ATEbank approves 675-mln-euro share capital increase plan

    ATEbank on Monday said a general shareholders' meeting approved a board proposal for a share capital increase plan worth 675 million euros as part of a government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the economy and to deal with the impact from an international financial crisis.

    Under the plan, ATEbank will issue 937,500,000 prefered stocks, worth 0.72 euros each. The shareholders' meeting also approved a plan to issue a covered bond loan up to 5.0 billion euros and medium-term MTN issue worth up to 5.0 billion euros.

    Addressing the meeting, bank governor Dimitris Miliakos stressed that the Greek banking system proved capable of absorbing turbulence from a credit crisis, enjoying a strong savings base and a limited exposure to high-risk investment products.

    [19] Farmers hold rally in Thessaloniki

    Farmers and stockbreeders held a rally in downtown Thessaloniki, Macedonia, and a march to the ministry of Macedonia and Thrace on Monday, in the framework of nationwide mobilisation organised by the PASY farmers group.

    The demonstrators held banners denouncing European common agricultural policy and demanded, among other things, minimum guaranteed prices for their products and compensation for their lost income.

    A resolution read out during the demonstration rejected the policy of the European Union and of the "parties of one-path Europe" and announced the escalation of protest action.

    [20] Club Hotel Loutraki ups stake in Belgrade casino to 90%

    Club Hotel Loutraki on Monday announced that it has raised its equity stake in Grand Casino d.o.o in Serbia to 90 percent, up from 39 percent. The Greece-based company said it has purchased a 51-percent equity stake in the Serbian casino from Casinos Austria AG for an undisclosed sum.

    Club Hotel Loutraki will take over the management of the Belgrade casino and needs approval by Serbian authorities. Under the agreement, Club Hotel Casino has the option of buying 50-75 pct of shares in a Brussels casino as well, currently owned by Casinos Austria AG.

    [21] Building activity down 16% in Jan-Oct

    Building activity fell significantly in Greece in the 10-month period from January to October 2008, the National Statistics Service said on Monday. Building activity fell by 15.7 pct in permits and by 16.0 pct in volume in the January-October period, compared with the corresponding period last year.

    Attica (23.6 pct), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (19.8 pct) and Thessaly (15.9 pct) recorded the biggest decline in permits.

    [22] Greek stocks down 1.14% on Mon.

    Greek stocks suffered heavy losses in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday. The composite index of the market ended 1.14 pct lower at 1,870.81 points, with turnover a low 82.4 million euros, of which 1.2 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Banks (3.38 pct), Media (2.55 pct), Financial Services (2.33 pct) and Oil/Gas (2.16 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecommunications (1.94 pct), Healthcare (1.77 pct) and Utilities (1.36 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index ended 1,52 pct lower, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.93 pct and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.48 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 132 to 58 with another 53 issues unchanged.

    Alpha Bank (4.87 pct), Cyprus Bank (4.21 pct), National Bank (3.56 pct) and Eurobank (3.39 pct) were top losers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (1.94 pct), PPC (1.37 pct) and OPAP (1.01 pct) were among gainers.

    Sector indexes ended as follows:

    Insurance: 1,622.35 -0.43%

    Industrial Products and Services: 2.854.33 -1.15%

    Commerce: 3,341.11 -0.88%

    Construction: 2,484.82 -1.05%

    Media: 3,273.23 -2.16%

    Oil/Natural Gas: 2,234.75 -2.16%

    Personal/Home Products: 2,462.34 +0.65%

    Raw Materials: 2,448.33 -1.32%

    Travel: 3,759.30 +0.47%

    Technology: 972.83 -1.80%

    Telecoms: 3,468.24 +1.94%

    Banks: 1,922.85 -3.38%

    Food/Beverage: 3,914.66 -0.15%

    Healthcare: 5,100.72 +1.77%

    Utilities: 3,739.19 +1.36%

    Chemicals: 7,082.06 +0.93%

    Financial Services: 4,803.48 -2.33%

    Klonatex (10 pct), Varagis (9.59 pct), Proton (8.45 pct), Sanyo Holdings (8.0 pct) and Elton (7.55 pct) were top gainer,s while Varvaressos (9.52 pct), Praxitelio (9.38 pct), Hellenic Fishfarming (9.09 pct) and Xylemporia (8.96 pct) were top losers.

    Alapis, National Bank, Cyprus Bank and Marfin Popular Bank were the most heavily traded stocks. The market's capitalization totaled 71.558 billion euros.

    Blue chip stocks ended as follows:

    ALPHA BANK: 6.64

    ATEBANK: 1.40

    VIOHALCO: 4.12

    H┼LLAKTOR: 4.18

    PPC: 13.30

    COCA COLA: 11.60

    HELLENIC PETROLEUM: 5.70

    NATIONAL BANK: 13.56

    ┼UROBANK: 5.70

    CYPRUS BANK: 2.73

    ╔NTRALOT: 3.36

    HELLENIC POSTBANK: 5.24

    ╠ŇďILINEOS: 4.20

    MOTOR OIL: 7.66

    ¤PAP: 21.90

    ¤ď┼: 12.60

    PIRAEUS BANK: 6.30

    ď╔ď┴═: 14.36

    MARFIN POPULAR BANK: 2.01

    MARFIN INVESTMENT GROUP: 2.98

    [23] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking a low 26.766 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.77 pct, with volume of 4,673 contracts worth 22.918 million euros and 21,474 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 5,214 contracts worth 3.711 million euros with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (899), followed by Eurobank (496), PPC (338), GEK (233), Alpha Bank (552), Marfin Popular Bank (234) and Intralot (459).

    [24] Greek state bonds suffer significant losses in Dec.

    Greek state bonds suffered significant losses in the electronic secondary bond market in December, in contrast with US and European state securities' markets which strengthened during the last month of 2008, the Bank of Greece said on Monday. The three-year bond's yield rose by 0.34 percent to 4.37 pct in December, from 4.04 pct in November, while the 10-year bond yielded 6.09 pct from 5.48 pct over the same period, respectively. The average yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 201 basis points from 150 bps at the end of November.

    Turnover also fell significantly, with the value of transactions in the electronic market totaling 5.45 billion euros in December, from 21.36 billion in December 2007. Average daily turnover was 260 million euros.

    On Monday, turnover totaled 165 million euros, of which 85 million were buy orders and the remaining 80 million euros were sell orders. The 33-year bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 35 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened to 236 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.36 pct and the German Bund 3.0 pct.

    In interbank market, interest rates fell further. The 12-month Euribor rate was 2.78 pct, the six-month rate 2.69 pct, the three-month rate 2.64 pct and the one-month rate 2.39 pct.

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates: Tuesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.350

    Pound sterling 0.902

    Danish kroner 7.512

    Swedish kroner 10.846

    Japanese yen 121.44

    Swiss franc 1.512

    Norwegian kroner 9.488

    Canadian dollar 1.614

    Australian dollar 1.963

    General News

    [26] Shipping executive abducted in brash daylight kidnapping

    Well-known shipping executive Pericles Panagopoulos, the former owner of Superfast Ferries, was abducted just before 9 a.m. on Monday morning in the coastal resort of Kavouri, southeast of Athens, police said.

    Authorities said Panagopoulos had left his home headed for his office in Piraeus in his chauffer-driven car when three unknown suspects cut them off on a narrow roadway leading away from his secluded villa. The assailants broke the windows of Pangagopoulos' luxury automobile car and forced him and the driver at gunpoint into a van. The assailants also used a dark-colored jeep in the incident.

    A short time later the abductors released the well-known entrepreneur's driver in the eastern town of Koropi, then headed off again with Panagopoulos in another vehicle, while they torched the van and jeep, presumably stolen in previous days.

    A massive manhunt was immediately launched by Attica security police.

    The abduction was seen by a construction worker at a nearby site, who immediately alerted police. Panagopoulos' driver was discovered, handcuffed, near the spot where the two getaway vehicles were abandoned. The driver was initially taken to the local police station in Koropi and afterwards to police headquarters in central Athens in order to provide a statement.

    Police believe the motive behind the abduction is ransom money.

    On his part, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros expressed a hope for a happy ending in the case, emphasising that Panagopoulos, 72, has a serious health problem that requires the daily consumption of prescribed medicines.

    [27] Syrian national acquitted of lowering Israeli flag

    A Syrian national arrested outside the Israeli Embassy in Athens at the end of last December for lowering the Israeli flag from its mast was acquitted by an Athens court on Monday.

    The incident had occurred during a protest rally held outside the Israeli Embassy against Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip. The Syrian had been arrested and indicted on charges of "jeopardising the country's relations."

    Weather Forecast

    [28] Cloudy on Tuesday

    Cloud and local showers and southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-9 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -3C and 17C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southeasterly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 14C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 0C to 5C.

    [29] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Last week's government reshuffle and policy guidelines set out by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, the economy, concern over the latest round of Turkish provocations in the eastern Aegean and the Israeli offensive in Gaza were the main front-page items in Monday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Worry over Turkish provocations - Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) to convene today," chaired by the prime minister.

    APOGEVMATINI: "Tax-free ceiling at 10,500 euros"; new FinMin Yiannis Papathanassiou planning corrective moves in taxation policy.

    AVRIANI: "Papathanassiou putting end to SDOE (financial crimes squad) arbitrariness".

    CHORA: "Political crossword puzzle - Reshuffle narrowed difference (main opposition PASOK's lead over ruling ND in opinion polls) to 3 percentage points - We've entered the second half (of the political match).

    ELEFTHEROS: "Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) plans to 'annihilate' PASOK politically and head either to (early general) elections in the spring, or more forcefully, to the European Parliament elections".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Five days of hell in the Aegean" anticipated this week as Turkey deploys military aircraft, ships and submarines for air and sea exercise 'Cevik Pence' (Steel Pincers), from Monday to Friday in designated areas Limnos to Rhodes".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "With eyes fixed on elections - Opinion polls show PASOK-ND difference at 3 percentage points after reshuffle".

    ESTIA: "The people want bold policy - Last chance for government".

    ETHNOS: "Electoral 'tricks' by Karamanlis - Desperate attempt to change the (political) climate in two months".

    TA NEA: "Thriller with arms from Greece for Israel, as the massacre continues in Gaza", claiming that two munitions transport shipments from the port of Astakos to an Israeli port are contained in a tender issued by the US.

    VRADYNI: "The third phase of massacre - The Israelis invaded city of Gaza".

    The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Last week's government reshuffle and the policy guidelines set out by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, the economy, concern over the Turkish provocations in the Aegean and the Israeli offense in Gaza were the main front-page items in Monday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Worry over the Turkish provocations - Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) to convene today" chaired by the prime minister.

    APOGEVMATINI: "Tax-free ceiling at 10,500 euros" adding that new economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou was planning corrective moves in taxation policy.

    AVRIANI: "Papathanassiou putting end to SDOE (financial crimes squad) arbitrariness".

    CHORA: "Political crossword puzzle - The reshuffle narrowed the difference (main opposition PASOK's lead over ruling ND in opinion polls) to 3 percentage points - We've entered the second half (of the political match).

    ELEFTHEROS: "The Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) plans to 'annihilate' PASOK electorally and head either to (early general) elections in the Spring, or strongly to the European Parliament elections".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "5 days of hell in the Aegean" anticipated this week as Turkey deploys military aircraft, ships and submarines for the air and sea exercise 'Cevik Pence' (Steel Pincers) from Monday to Friday in areas they have engaged from Limnos to Rhodes".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "With the eyes on elections - The opinion polls show PASOK-ND difference at 3 percentage points after the reshuffle".

    ESTIA: "The people want bold policy - Last chance for the government".

    ETHNOS: "Electoral 'tricks' by Karamanlis - Desperate attempt to change the (political) climate in two months".

    TA NEA: "Thriller with arms from Greece for Israel, as the massacre continues in Gaza", claiming that two munitions transport shipments from the port of Astakos to an Isreali port are contained in a tender issued by the US.

    VRADYNI: "The third phase of the massacre - The Israeli's invaded the city of Gaza".

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